Ray Cologon was born in Sydney, Australia in 1957. From an early age he was intensely interested in music and the arts, and experimented with writing, musical composition, painting and sculpture. His love for wood as a material also began at a young age. Although finding himself in constrained circumstances, he was naturally resourceful, and was able to make progress with arts activities, though at this time being largely self-taught. Through until the late 1970s, music and rock-theatre had become his main focus, including some set and costume design, along with writing - some of his poetry and prose was published during this period. Throughout this time, painting and sculpture continued as largely private passions.
Whilst working, after completing secondary school, and while simultaneously studying for a University degree in psychology and literature, Cologon became increasingly restless and moved towards combining music and performance with other art forms. In 1979 he made a dramatic shift, moving interstate to Melbourne to study fine art at the Preston Institute of Technology (now RMIT University). Bringing his ideas into new focus, Cologon simultaneously pursued sculpture and media arts, completing a degree in Fine Art in 1981.
Following his graduation from Art School, Cologon undertook a variety of commissioned works, including a number of large works in wood. During this period he also designed an experimental recording studio and produced a number of recorded works, including film soundtracks and some more conventional musical pieces. The constraints of available commissioned work became a source of frustration and, with the desire to begin a family (he now has two children) Cologon began accepting teaching work (initially in music and art, but later moving on to other areas including computing and research) and then managerial roles within several universities. This continued through into the early 1990s, when Cologon began PhD studies at the Victoria University.
After completing his doctoral thesis in 1997, Cologon set about orchestrating a return to full-time Arts related pursuits, taking freelance and consulting roles while establishing art and multimedia studios in Melbourne. This led to the genesis of NightWing Enterprises. Rekindling his affinity with wood and wood sculpture, Cologon quickly established a presence with a series of striking works utilising experimental techniques and combining traditional methods and new technologies. The works have won a number of awards, including a 1st prize at the Australian Woodturning Exhibition and first prize in the Mixed Media category of the Interneational Art Award. As a culmination of this period of development, a solo exhibition of one hundred sculpture works was held in Melbourne in July/Aug 2001, with a further show following in 2002.
Cologon's use of wood is deeply sensual, capturing a spiritual and reflective quality which has left a lasting impression on many viewers. His use of form to evoke a sense of metamorphosis between plant and human, or between states of mind, leaves a powerful imprint. He achieves a balance between an overarching sense of aesthetic and intellectual values and a strong commitment to technique and detail. Perhaps due to a restlessness for innovation or a vigorous pursuit of individuality, Cologon's work has been hard to classify. However this has not dampened its reception at exhibition.
In late 2001, drawing together disparate skills acquired over several decades, Cologon undertook the photographic, graphic design, computer coding and writing work required to bring a substantial body of his recent sculptural work to a new and wider audience via the internet, with a web site at www.nightwing.com.au. The site presents a broad survey of Cologon's recent works in wood, including also a small selection of earlier works. This new and open-ended exhibition space has seen early successes, with international sales of a number of pieces and a number of well-deserved awards.
Director, Art Affairs Gallery